Lessons from the Lakers (cake)

20 Jun

What do you do when your sis-n-law asks for a birthday cake for your brother (who rocks)  with 3 days notice (and skillfully avoiding her own b-day the day before, that sly she-devil)?  You suck it up, buckle down, and figure with an airbrush, anything is possible!  So begins the tale of the Lakers cake.  My bro has been a Lakers fan for as long as I can remember, and after looking at their logo, I figure, “why not?”  First up, the frosting.  I tend to make TONS of frosting when I do a cake.  Why?  It’s like looking at the gifts under the Christmas tree, never looks like enough.  Moms out there know…  So,  I broke out the big girl (my favorite, an 8 qt. battleship of a bowl my hubby got me for Christmas one year, you’ll be seeing lots of her), and I make a double batch of frosting.  I’ve got this down to about a 15-20 minute process. P1010428

Crumb coat and cold cake, can’t say enough about either.  Both are important in the final outcome of the cake.  A cold (if not frozen) cake reduces the amount of crumbage (yes, it’s a word, I swear) when you put on the crumb coat.  I use the standard method, plop a wad of frosting in the middle and work your way out. Don’t worry about the appearance, hence the term crumb coat. 

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Stacking/assembly of the cake is pretty much the same as a crumb coat, again I use the plop method, and work my way out, saving the sides for last.   Sometimes a crumb or two will surface – gotta keep a clean knife!   Simply take a sharp knife and remove the crumbs, and repair the rut.  See?  Easy as pie, er cake.  I use the hot spatula method for smoothing my frosting. 

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For this cake, I decided to airbrush the Lakers logo on the top.  I printed out the logo to the size I needed, and cut out several stencils from wax paper – *lesson time*, not a great idea.  It worked in a pinch, but I’ve got to get a better medium to cut stencils.  Hmmmmm sounds like a trip to the craft store to me!  I started with the basketball stencil.  Pretty basic, it’s a circle.    After removing the stencil, this now looks like a giant egg. 

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While impatiently waiting for the basketball to dry, I cut and prepped the “Lakers” portion of the logo.  Now, the problem with this particular cake, red velvet with cream cheese frosting, is the frosting.  Cream cheese frosting is STICKY.  Fortunately, my partner in cake, sent me a recipe that actually crusted, so the stickiness was reduced.  Still, the wax paper is going to either stick to or cut into the frosting.  My solution was to have it float above the cake as close to the cake as I could get it.  I *almost* achieved this by using straight pins.  Who knew moms old sewing kit would come in handy?  Thanks mom! 

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Airbrushing is pretty basic too.  Light strokes, with as little angle as possible will give you an even coat.  Because of the stencil I made, unfortunately, there was some under blow.  That’s the beauty of making a cake for family, they think it’s great, and it’s free so there’s no complaints!  A few details added to the basketball with black frosting, and it’s almost complete.  Oh, and see those lumps in the frosting?  When those happen, just pop those suckers with a straight pin, they’ll deflate immediately.  Don’t go too deep, don’t want to pierce the cake.

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For finishing, I decided this would be a great opportunity to work on my border skills, as I haven’t done a cake since April.  It took a few strokes to get my wrists back in action, but it finally came together, my brother was pleased, and that’s the important part. 

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So, the lessons learned here:

1) Improvising is great, if you have a knack for figuring out what to do in a pinch (as I do), but for a commissioned cake, it’s always best to have the right tools for the job.

2) I really must learn to be a better photographer.  My partner in cake is sooo much better at the pics than I am, but I’ll work on it, I promise.

3) Face mask!  I always forget about the face mask!  Nothing catches you off guard like rainbow boogers!

4) Get more than 3 days notice 🙂

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One Response to “Lessons from the Lakers (cake)”

  1. chick2 June 20, 2009 at 11:35 am #

    Great post! How are the rainbow boogers doing? LOL

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